Welcome to the SampleCon 2021 Highlights Series. Recorded live in Pasadena, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors, speakers and attendees at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Andrew Abony, CEO of Adbloom.
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Jamin Brazil: Hey, everybody. Live right now, SampleCon 2021, my first live event. I’ve got Andrew Abony. Did I pronounce it correct?
Andrew Abony: Yeah. Got it perfect.
Jamin Brazil: Awesome. Business is Adbloom. Love the name.
Andrew Abony: Thank you.
Jamin Brazil: Tell me about it.
Andrew Abony: So Adbloom is a- We’re really just experts in user recruitment and acquisition. And what that means is we’re very good at getting consumers to engage in different types of marketing, whether that’s market research related or fintech, like financial services, the gig economy, adtech, etc. We generally reach American audiences, but we’re fairly global and usually reaching consumers who are interested in ways to earn, make, or save. So we don’t touch anything that you can kind of buy or sell. All of our clients sort of are- Don’t have anything that you can purchase. So a typical client might be like Acorns, the fintech unicorn, Root Insurance, another insurance unicorn, or some of the many great market research companies that are here at SampleCon this year.
Jamin Brazil: So you’re doing things like, basically just click through, is that right?
Andrew Abony: Sort of. So we, on one side of our business, work with over 600 content partners. Now, these are bloggers, websites, email newsletters, more so social influencers in micro-communities. And, so, these are effectively places on the web, whether they’re in a mobile app or on some sort of a social network where you get communities of highly targeted and highly interested audiences that have all banded around, usually, a sort of singular topic. So it might be people who love fishing use a certain kind of fishing app. People that love their pets follow- Might follow a particular influencer, a dog influencer on Instagram. And working with that type of partner, they can engage their audience in a way that’s incredibly authentic, one-to-one, and really be able to get them to go participate in something like a market research campaign or to go sign up for pet insurance or to go buy a new fishing rod. So the sort of magic happens where we introduce a great client campaign with the right partner. And they just sort of organically come up with an awesome way to acquire that user form.
Jamin Brazil: I love that. That is- That’s super modern and very different, relative to how sample is currently, generally speaking, recruited for, right?
Andrew Abony: Yeah.
Jamin Brazil: Which is normally through channel partners or publications or those sorts of models. I think it’s very modern. Do you find that you’re able to recruit younger audiences pretty effectively?
Andrew Abony: So younger audiences still remain a challenge, just like everything else. I think what we’re learning and putting into practice more often than not is that you need to reach that audience, whether it’s the 18-year-old video game male or the 55-year-old female, you have to reach that audience where they are hanging out and comfortable. And, so, we actually talk about this, sort of audience and intentionality. So you need to have the audience there. You need to be in a place where the 18-year-old kids are hanging out. But they also have to have some sort of interest or intention to want to participate in market research, right? And, so, an example I used in my talk earlier was the video gamer. So, if you hit an 18-year-old video gamer while she’s playing Call of Duty with an ad to take a survey, that survey’s not gonna get done. But 15 minutes after that video game’s over, that same kid is now in a Discord chat room with 150 other strangers all commenting and talking and sharing about their experience getting shot up in a game of Call of Duty. That’s actually the perfect opportunity to hit them with that message of, “Hey, why don’t you take this survey and do whatever?” So it’s kind of like you have to meet them where they’re actually gonna be able to go do what you want them to do, but also have the right audience. So I think that a really interesting challenge is, how do we go and find these younger audiences? Well, we’re learning a lot of things. So we’re on TikTok now with a couple of TikTok influencers. And what we learned with TikTok is it is nothing to do with the amount of followers a TikTok page has, it has everything to do with the virality of the content that that particular TikTok person does. So they might only have 100 followers, but they may be able to generate videos that get 20 million views on average. And, so, that’s kind of where you want to play. So I think the answer is both yes and no. The younger generation is still fairly elusive, but more so than not, we’re uncovering places to find them digitally and getting them and encourage them to participate in research.
Jamin Brazil: Yeah. I mean, Discord’s a really good example. I’m an avid Discord user on quite a few different, gosh, at least 20 different Discords. And they’re all closed communities, so you can’t-
Andrew Abony: Yeah.
Jamin Brazil: You can’t be a recruiter and get access to the Discords. And they’re not- You can’t find them on Google. And that’s been kind of an interesting challenge, to your point about the authenticity, is you actually- The best way to recruit, it sounds like, is to identify people that are connected with those audiences and have that authenticity so that you can be at the right place and right time.
Andrew Abony: Yeah. Exactly. And because of the nature of social, if you’re in that Discord channel, there’s a reason why you’re there. So, if you’re following- I’m a cyclist, so I follow a bunch of cycling related stuff. And there’s a reason for that, because I like cycling. So I trust those voices. They’re communities where I’m engaging with other peers who are completely random strangers on the Internet, but because we have this shared interest in a sport, it’s really easy for us to sort of talk and converse and exchange ideas. And I think that a lot of that, that’s just continuing to happen where you have these islands and all these little micro-communities that are just sprouting up everywhere. And, so, really, the cha- I think the challenge, but the opportunity is that it’s so easy to go start a community around a certain interest. And, if you can make good content and stick around to it, you’re gonna have followers and audiences. And, so, I think the opportunity, really, for the market research community and something that Adbloom’s doing a lot of is helping connect those projects from where- Whatever silo they’re in today to, “Hey, well, let’s get- Take it to this really super exciting micro-community that is exactly the type of audience that you want to reach.”
Jamin Brazil: Got it. Perfect. When you think about- I mean, this is end of day two, so we’re almost through the sessions. What’s your big takeaway from the conference?
Andrew Abony: This is- Well, I think the first takeaway, and probably the biggest takeaway, is this is a really nice group of people.
Jamin Brazil: Yeah. That’s good to hear.
Andrew Abony: Yeah. Super- Everybody’s super friendly and very- Has been very easy to talk to. And I think sharing notes who are kind of competitors and peers and clients has been very refreshing. It’s been really neat to go and join the sessions and listen in because I’m learning a lot about what our clients are dealing with on day-to-day basis, what keeps them up at night. Obviously, recruitment is something we care a lot about-
Jamin Brazil: Totally.
Andrew Abony: And I’m trying to sell recruitment to everybody I can talk to. But understanding how people look at fraud and how people look at quality because these are things that we really care about as well. We thought early on that we would be able to deliver a higher quality respondent than what’s out there today. And, I think, in some cases we’ve been proven right and some, not always right. But understanding those challenges that our clients are facing. And that this isn’t just an idea that we had, that there’s a fraud issue or that there’s a quality issue, that it’s really real has helped, probably, sort of drive that back home for us and give us a good feel for what we’re doing.
Jamin Brazil: You gonna come back next year?
Andrew Abony: Hundred percent.
Jamin Brazil: Awesome.
Andrew Abony: Yeah.
Jamin Brazil: Last question. How has COVID impacted you?
Andrew Abony: I mean, that’s pretty deep question. I think going back to March 2020 as CEO of the business and I do most of our sort of selling and revenue related stuff, so I’m very client focused. It was very hard time in March, April, May, getting the phone and be super optimistic about what’s happening and- Or-
Jamin Brazil: Budgets have locked down. No one was buying.
Andrew Abony: Yeah. Yeah. And, then, even you’re not talking anybody about new deals and stuff like that. And spring’s usually a big season for that, so that was definitely a challenge. On the other side, what we saw was just skyrocketing Internet usage amongst the consumers that we reach. So people were at home with less to do, sitting on their phones or playing on their computers or on their TVs and clicking here and there. And, so, we definitely- There was some silver lining there. I mean, there’s a lot more consumer demand and ways to sort of save money or make money. So I think that was pretty beneficial overall for the business and certainly interesting. And, then, there were some other things that, I guess in every crisis there’s opportunity. We set a priority to start doing more work with the clinical research industry in 2020 and 2019. And, as the COVID-19 vaccine started rolling out and they needed to go get people to try the vaccines out, we got tapped to do a lot of the recruitment there, so-
Jamin Brazil: That’s cool.
Andrew Abony: It was sort of neat. I couldn’t have predicted that ever to have happened-
Jamin Brazil: Yeah. Of course.
Andrew Abony: And it did. And, so, I think looking forward now, just being able to come to SampleCon, we’re standing inside in California without a mask on. That’s pretty awesome.
Jamin Brazil: Yeah.
Andrew Abony: I’ve been bear hugging and shaking hands with as many people as I possibly can, so that’s been really awesome. So I feel generally, I think, hopefully we’re into a new phase and I’m feeling very fortunate to be here and be here speaking with you.
Jamin Brazil: Thank you very much for joining me. Hey, somebody wants to get in contact with you or someone on your team, how would they do that?
Andrew Abony: It’s www. adbloom.com, that’s A-D-B-L-O-O-M.com. And my email’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jamin Brazil: Andrew, thanks for joining me.
Andrew Abony: Thank you. Appreciate it.